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Eating Together = Anti-Ritual?

Posted by on Oct 29, 2010 in blog links, community, fellowship | 10 comments

Eating Together = Anti-Ritual?

Felicity Dale at “Simply Church” has written a very interesting post called “This helps to prevent religious rituals in a simple/organic church.” What is the “this” that she’s talking about? Eating together.

She writes:

Most simple/organic churches meet in the context of a meal.  There is something about eating together that enables fellowship, and it’s harder to be “religious” where food is involved.  Eating together usually involves laughter and sharing, good-natured banter and deep heart-to-heart discussions.  As one of our friends likes to say, “How do you spell fellowship?  It’s four letters:

F-O-O-D!

Most groups that we know share a potluck meal–it is reproducible and doesn’t leave too much work with the host family.  A lot of fellowship goes on too over the preparation of food and the clean-up later.  Some groups may even have their whole time together around the dining table.

I’ve also discovered that it is helpful to treat the meal as important as other parts of meeting together.

What do you think?


10 Comments

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  1. 10-29-2010

    Alan,

    This question has to do with gatherings in general and meetings in particular. What is a good way to avoid seeing the meal as one part of the gathering and the singing/teaching/exhortation/testimony as the other part? In other words, how can a church avoid seeing a separation between the two aspects of the meeting? One obvious answer would be to do some of those things (sining, teaching, etc.) during the eating. Anyway, what do you think?

  2. 10-29-2010

    idk but look forward to what others with experience have to say! :)

  3. 10-30-2010

    Once we become members of Christ’s family, he does not let us go hungry, but feeds us with his own body and blood through the Eucharist.

    In the Old Testament, as they prepared for their journey in the wilderness, God commanded his people to sacrifice a lamb and sprinkle its blood on their doorposts, so the Angel of Death would pass by their homes. Then they ate the lamb to seal their covenant with God.

    This lamb prefigured Jesus. He is the real “Lamb of God,” who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

    Through Jesus we enter into a New Covenant with God (Luke 22:20), who protects us from eternal death. God’s Old Testament people ate the Passover lamb.

    Now we must eat the Lamb that is the Eucharist. Jesus said, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life within you” (John 6:53).

    At the Last Supper he took bread and wine and said, “Take and eat. This is my body . . . This is my blood which will be shed for you” (Mark 14:22–24).

    In this way Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist, the sacrificial meal Catholics consume at each Mass.

    The Catholic Church teaches that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross occurred “once for all”; it cannot be repeated (Hebrews 9:28).

    Christ does not “die again” during Mass, but the very same sacrifice that occurred on Calvary is made present on the altar.

    That’s why the Mass is not “another” sacrifice, but a participation in the same, once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

    Paul reminds us that the bread and the wine really become, by a miracle of God’s grace, the actual body and blood of Jesus: “Anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Corinthians 11:27–29).

    After the consecration of the bread and wine, no bread or wine remains on the altar. Only Jesus himself, under the appearance of bread and wine, remains.

  4. 10-30-2010

    Eric,

    One of the things that we’ve done before is to meet around tables. We literally broke bread and passed it around. Then we sang and prayed for awhile. Then we ate together. And we had the teaching/discussion around the table. Afterward, we passed the cup around. It was a great way to show that the meal was part of the meeting, not an add-on or extra.

    Randi,

    I think eating together does help us stay away from rituals. I guess no one else wanted to give their opinion.

    Michael,

    I’m not sure what your comment has to do with my post, but thanks.

    -Alan

  5. 10-31-2010

    Hi Eric. We don’t think of it as a meeting. We’re just going to Tom and Janie’s (or Rick and Deb’s) for the evening.

    We get together and start with a potluck ~6PM. We are very informal. During the meal, we celebrate the Lord’s supper together (with big hunks of bread and a full glass of grape juice). As dinner winds down, conversations just begin. Coffee is available. People move around. Kids play. As the conversations go along, we listen for God to draw our attention. Eventually, we begin sharing in one larger conversation, and side conversations die down.

    There is no “calling to attention” (OK, we’re going to start now…). We start when we walk in and smile/get smiled at, hug, and gab away… We think of ourselves as guests at a meal prepared by the Lord, spending time together with Him as the Host. So we all have an ear turned to listen for His voice.

    Yes, there are frequently discordant voices, especially with visitors, but all of us get out of synch now and then. But patience and kindness usually gets us past or through this. Most often, there is subtantially a wonderful harmony, and we are often amazed at where the Lord took us tonight. We couldn’t have coordinated that ourselves if we had tried.

    I suppose if we do anything differently than a “normal” conversation, it is in trying to listen and not just wait for a turn to talk. As things come up, we may stop and pray, or sing a song that “fits.” Sometimes someone may teach on something for 10 or 20 minutes as the evening goes along, but it is taught conversationally (maddening at first if you are used to having the tidy control of a point upon point monologue). There are questions, comments, discussions, and the zigs and zags of unexpected directions.

    And, of course, we are quoting and referring to scripture, and usually digging into scripture to clarify and understand better one thing or another.

    But all of this is in the context of weekday interactions between various people and helping one another or doing some service to others together. It isn’t the only time we get together and isn’t necessarily the most significant time we spend together that week.

  6. 10-31-2010

    Lose the meals and the overall fellowship can fall apart in not too long a time.

  7. 11-3-2010

    I agree. It’s hard to be overly religious when you’re chewing food in front of each other. :)

  8. 11-4-2010

    just got through reading michael’s post

    interesting

  9. 11-16-2010

    Alan – I think Michael’s post is showing how the ‘meal’ is very much a ‘ritual’ (and that’s not a dirty word). I don’t know where it comes from, but using ‘religion’ as a dirty word is bizarre to me.

  10. 11-16-2010

    Josh,

    A meal can be a ritual in the sense of “any customary observance or practice”. But, I don’t see how a meal (a real meal) can be a ritual in the sense of “the prescribed procedure for conducting religious ceremonies”. (By the way, I found those definitions here.) However, the meal (the real meal) was turned into that second kind of ritual.

    -Alan